Information about Are there really different areas of 'taste' on your tongue? with Fizzics Education | Kids Science Experiments

Test your taste buds!

Test your taste buds!

Follow FizzicsEd 150 Science Experiments:

You will need:

Four cups of water

Wooden tongue depressors, i.e. icecream sticks

Lemon juice; be aware of potential citrus allergies!

Salt

Sugar

A taste test subject!

Test your taste buds science experiment - materials needed
1 Test your taste buds science experiment - pouring salt into a cup

Dissolve sugar crystals into one cup, salt into another cup and pour lemon juice into a third cup.

Leave the fourth cup as a ‘control’, i.e. something you can compare against.

2 Test your taste buds science experiment - tasting a flavour

Mix a wooden ice-cream stick through one solution and place it on the tip of your tongue.

Record the taste i.e salty, bitter, sweet, no taste. Wash your mouth out with pure water.

Now repeat steps 3 and 4 for the back, sides and middle of your tongue.

3 Test your taste buds science experiment - Tongue with taste areas

Were there areas of the tongue that didn’t strongly sense the taste?

Now repeat the steps 3, 4 and 5 for the other solutions.

What were your results? Now read below to find out true answer…

Maybe try blind folding a friend, can they tell which solution is which?

Why Does This Happen?

‘Tongue taste maps’ have been a classic experiment for primary school aged children for many years. Many text books will incorrectly reveal that there are indeed areas of taste on your tongue, i.e. some areas taste salt better than sugar etc. The problem is that this has been based on faulty science!

There are no specific areas on your tongue exclusively for salt, sugar or sour tastes.

Your sense of taste comes from small structures called taste buds, collectively called ‘papillae’. These papillae occur on top of the tongue, epiglottis and soft palate within your mouth. There are five taste sensations: sweet, sour, bitter, savory and salty. Your food’s taste comes from a mixture of signals being sent to the brain from the papillae within your mouth.

The popular belief that there are specific taste areas over the tongue comes from a poorly translated german psychological study conducted in 1901! Sensitivity to all tastes is apparent throughout the tongue, with stronger sensations being produced in different areas due to differing numbers of papillae on the tongue.

Learn more!

Teaching about the human body? From 5 senses to the skeletal system, the Human Body workshop has you covered!
Get in touch with FizzicsEd to find out how we can work with your class.

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